Should kindergarten kids be toilet trained before they start school?

Posted in School.

Who is ultimately responsible for raising children?

That’s the question that jumps out at me from a story out of the UK, where an infant school in Walsall has hired a toilet training nanny to keep up with demand.

School says parents have dropped the ball

Apparently, the majority of kindergarten-aged kids (average of five years) have started school without being toilet trained. In addition, teachers at the school have complained that students are struggling to hold cutlery and haven’t been taught basic manners.

According to, the school’s chief inspector is outraged by what she described as parents dropping the ball.

“Schools cannot be expected to act as substitute parents or provide a panacea to all societal ills,” she said in December last year.

“They have more than enough to focus on.”

Everyone has a role in teaching our kindy kids

Having just returned from a huddle of kindergarten parents patting ourselves on the back for surviving our first term, this story leaves me really torn.

Starting school is a huge experience for all concerned, especially our tired and information-overloaded kids. And given how much we’ve already covered in 12 weeks of learning, it’s not really a surprise that some amazing teachers feel burdened.

As a parent you’d like to think you’ve prepared your kids for the start of school – and toilet training is a part of developing their natural independence and confidence too. Nobody is denying that. 

But when you look closer, these issues raised by the chief inspector speak of bigger problems within the school’s wider community.

More complex problems at stake 

Local labour counsellor, Diane Coughlan, said the school’s location – a socioeconomically challenged neighbourhood – meant parents and kids were facing lots of different and complex problems.

But can you really expect the teachers, who have such a huge job already, to pick up the slack?

Well, to be honest – yes.

A collective responsibility 

Knowing the school has your back and is supportive of your child regardless of their development stage is essential. It boosts their confidence and yours as the parent, and the ‘problem’ or ‘issue’ at hand is usually solved a lot faster too.

Nobody wants to burden our amazing teachers unnecessarily but surely there is a collective responsibility for the education of our kindy kids.

Learning at the tender age of five covers a whole spectrum of things – and if this school in Walsall needs help with manners, cutlery-wielding and toilet training, then that’s where the year should begin.


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